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Member-State Structures in Federations: Creation and Implications  

George Anderson

While member-state structures—the number, relative sizes, and demographic characteristics of states in federal regimes—could be thought to be one of the defining features of different federations, the comparative literature has paid relatively little attention to this important topic. There is the well-known distinction between “coming together” and “holding together” federations, but this has not led to comparative examinations of how these different formative experiences relate to the member-state structure of a federation, its evolution over time, and the processes for defining new or revised member-states. There has been more comparative attention to differences between “ethnic” and “territorial” federations, but often with limited linkage to other variables, such as the number and relative sizes of the member-states. For example, the literature on consociational power-sharing arrangements in central federal governmental institutions has largely neglected consideration of how the member-state structure and the pattern of territorial cleavages in the society affect the likelihood or form of power-sharing arrangements. This relates to the need to see the political geometry of federations in their broader social context: how the member-state structure compares with the underlying social and territorial cleavages in the country. While these cleavages may affect the member-state structure of the federation, they will certainly affect the political dynamics as institutional arrangements and societal pressures interact.